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TBR News February 28, 2020

Feb 28 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 28, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it

Commentary for February 28: ”A terrifying new disease has broken out, centered in Alviso, California. WHO experts have called it the ‘Budweiser virus.’ Dr. Melvin Pelvis, Regional Director said “Well, we named the last major death plague after a Mexican beer so we are naming this new major death plague after an American beer!’
Here are collection of terrifying headlines appearing in all the major media.
• Budweiser virus apparently spread by poodles
• New virus kills a man in Nome, Alaska: Governor declares emergency, then flees to Panama
• All stock markets collapse with threat of Budweiser virus erupting in Peru
• Death toll, worldwide, from dread Budweiser virus tops 23, including elephant in New York zoo.
• Milan, Italy, completely abandoned as dread Budweiser virus claims two lives
• Congress flees to safety in Las Vegas because of spreading Budweiser virus
• Terrifying virus kills three in Egypt; UN declares international virus crisis No. 2
• Sixteen poodles found dead in Methodist church in Rutabaga Falls, Montana; deadly Budweiser virus suspected.
• President Trump said in a press conference that it was apparent that the Budweiser virus kills only virgins, ‘We will all be safe because of this” the President said.
• Budweiser virus spreads to chickens and small ducks according to prominent scientist.

 

The Table of Contents

  • It’s no worse than the flu’: busting the coronavirus myths
  • Coronavirus Spending Bill Could be Used to Cement Spying Powers, Surveillance Critics in Congress Warned
  • Coming soon, just after the coronavirus passes away-
  • National (In)Security
  • The Season of Evil
  • The Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

 

It’s no worse than the flu’: busting the coronavirus myths
February 28, 2020
by Hannah Devlin Science correspondent
The Guardian
It is no more dangerous than winter flu’
Many individuals who get coronavirus will experience nothing worse than seasonal flu symptoms, but the overall profile of the disease, including its mortality rate, looks more serious. At the start of an outbreak the apparent mortality rate can be an overestimate if a lot of mild cases are being missed. But this week, a WHO expert suggested that this has not been the case with Covid-19. Bruce Aylward, who led an international mission to China to learn about the virus and the country’s response, said the evidence did not suggest that we were only seeing the tip of the iceberg. If borne out by further testing, this could mean that current estimates of a roughly 1% fatality rate are accurate. This would make Covid-19 about 10 times more deadly than seasonal flu, which is estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 people a year globally.

Coronavirus Spending Bill Could be Used to Cement Spying Powers, Surveillance Critics in Congress Warned
February 27, 2020
by Ryan Grim
The Intercept
The congressional effort to rein in the government’s surveillance powers before a looming deadline on March 15 could run up against a new opponent: the coronavirus.
House Democrats have been working on plans to further amend a provision of the Patriot Act, which as of 2015 provides a way for the government to get American citizens’ phone records from telecom companies. This and other key provisions of the Patriot Act must be reauthorized by March 15, or the surveillance authority lapses. The Democrats’ amended bill would pull the provision’s authorization while allowing and tweaking other other ways the government collects records.
But those negotiations have been thrown off track, with critics of the spying program alarmed by the possibility that congressional leaders may try to use the coronavirus outbreak — and the coinciding legislation to fund a response — as a vehicle to muscle through an unamended extension or reauthorization.
The Trump administration’s request for $2.5 billion to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic is likely to become an unstoppable legislative vehicle — as must-pass legislation that congressional leaders of both parties could use to ram through a reauthorization of the FBI’s call detail records program. Such a move would sidestep the House’s reform effort and instead push through a clean reauthorization of the program.
The Senate, said a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, is “threatening to put that clean reauthorization into something like coronavirus funding which would make it impossible to defeat if we don’t come up with a bill here. Pelosi and Schiff will never allow it to expire.”
“I would say it is still chatter at this point. But it is also chatter that could become their Plan A,” a Senate Republican aide, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the matter, told The Intercept.
Josh Withrow, senior policy analyst at the GOP-leaning libertarian organization Freedom Works, said that he has heard from a number of his sources on Capitol Hill on both sides of the aisle that the coronavirus vehicle is a looming threat. “It’s a real fear,” he said. “It obviously seems to have some legs, but I think they’d run into a little bit of a problem with that, because they already have a lot of conservatives questioning the dollar amount and saying, just pass a clean coronavirus.”
The program in question is the “call detail records” program, which sets out how the FBI or NSA can obtain phone records stored by telecom providers. Prior to that, the NSA collected phone records in bulk, relying on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act that a federal appeals court disputed in 2015.
But due to widespread compliance issues and limited intelligence value, the NSA voluntarily shut down the call details records program in 2019, leading many in Congress to question why the Trump administration was seeking to extend the legal basis for a now-defunct program. Civil liberties groups now see the reauthorization fight as a bellwether for whether Congress can bring itself to roll back surveillance authorities even in cases where the intelligence community determines they have limited intelligence value.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee had been scheduled to meet to vote on the product of closed-door negotiations between Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, his counterpart on the intelligence committee Rep. Adam Schiff, Republicans, and the intelligence community.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat who has been a lead civil liberties reformer on the committee, had said that she would introduce five amendments to the bill. Given that there is bipartisan skepticism of surveillance authority — Republicans have become increasingly opposed to it in the wake of the inspector general report into Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court abuses surrounding the Carter Page case — the amendments had a reasonable chance of success, opening the possibility that leadership would push forward with an Intelligence version of the bill and ditch the Judiciary legislation.
With Lofgren’s unexpected amendments surfacing, the hearing was canceled at the last minute. If the negotiations looked deadlocked, committee members worried, it upped the chance that the Senate, with the backing of House leaders, would attach the reauthorization to the must-pass coronavirus bill.
“We are trying to work out something and ensure also that the Senate does not push a clean reauthorization. So we needed more time,” said the Judiciary Committee member, citing the looming coronavirus vehicle.
The negotiations over surveillance reform are also complicated by the fact that congressional House leadership can decide which version of a bill receives a vote on the floor. In January 2018, while members of Congress were considering whether to reauthorize a different NSA surveillance, House leadership advanced a hastily written bill passed by the House Intelligence Committee under Rep. Adam Schiff, which was much more favorable to the intelligence community, over a counterpart authored by the Judiciary Committee.
On surveillance issues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schiff are much more closely aligned than her and Nadler. Schiff is increasingly being viewed in the House as a potential successor to Pelosi as House Speaker. Pelosi herself was the former top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.
House skeptics of mass surveillance have good reason to fear that funding to combat the impact of coronavirus may be used to pass this legislation. The last time critics of government overreach attempted to reform the USA Freedom Act — which modified the Patriot Act — they were denied a standalone vote, when it was instead attached to a must-pass government spending bill. The promise from leadership at the time was that the extension would be short-term, and skeptics would have an opportunity the next time around for reforms. That’s now in doubt.
“We have to have a separate vote on something as important as this FISA reauthorization,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a member of the Judiciary Committee.
One major question mark hanging over the process this time is what type of changes Trump loyalists — who were highly critical of the FBI’s handling of investigations into Trump associates — may demand. Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rand Paul have both signaled a desire for some type of reform, with Paul tweeting that he “spoke with Trump,” and that the FISA Court — the secret court which approves certain types of surveillance requests from the intelligence community — should be “forbidden from ever spying on or investigating Americans.”

Coming soon, just after the coronavirus passes away-
Yellowstone Supervolcano Alert: The Most Dangerous Volcano In America Is Roaring To Life
August 10, 2013
by Michael Snyder
Invictus
Right now, the ground underneath Yellowstone National Park is rising at a record rate. In fact, it is rising at the rate of about three inches per year. The reason why this is such a concern is because underneath the park sits the Yellowstone supervolcano – the largest volcano in North America. Scientists tell us that it is inevitable that it will erupt again one day, and when it does the devastation will be almost unimaginable. A full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano would dump a 10 foot deep layer of volcanic ash up to 1,000 miles away, and it would render much of the United States uninhabitable. When most Americans think of Yellowstone, they tend to conjure up images of Yogi Bear and “Old Faithful”, but the truth is that sleeping underneath Yellowstone is a volcanic beast that could destroy our nation in a single day and now that beast is starting to wake up.
The Yellowstone supervolcano is so vast that it is hard to put it into words. According to the Daily Mail, the magma “hotspot” underneath Yellowstone is approximately 300 miles wide…
The Yellowstone Caldera is one of nature’s most awesome creations and sits atop North America’s largest volcanic field.
Its name means ‘cooking pot’ or ‘cauldron’ and it is formed when land collapses following a volcanic explosion.
In Yellowstone, some 400 miles beneath the Earth’s surface is a magma ‘hotspot’ which rises to 30 miles underground before spreading out over an area of 300 miles across.
Atop this, but still beneath the surface, sits the slumbering volcano.
When most Americans think of volcanic eruptions in the United States, they remember the catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens back in 1980. But that eruption would not even be worth comparing to a full-blown eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano.
And now the area around Yellowstone is becoming increasingly seismically active. In fact, Professor Bob Smith says that he has never seen anything like this in the 53 years that he has been watching Yellowstone…
Until recently, Bob Smith had never witnessed two simultaneous earthquake swarms in his 53 years of monitoring seismic activity in and around the Yellowstone Caldera.
Now, Smith, a University of Utah geophysics professor, has seen three swarms at once.
In September, 130 earthquakes hit Yellowstone over the course of a single week. This has got many Yellowstone observers extremely concerned…
Yellowstone’s recent earthquake swarms started on Sept. 10 and were shaking until about 11:30 a.m. Sept. 16.
“A total of 130 earthquakes of magnitude 0.6 to 3.6 have occurred in these three areas, however, most have occurred in the Lower Geyser Basin,” a University of Utah statement said. “Notably much of seismicity in Yellowstone occurs as swarms.”
So what is the worst case scenario?
Well, according to the Daily Mail, a full-blown eruption of Yellowstone could leave two-thirds of the United States completely uninhabitable…
It would explode with a force a thousand times more powerful than the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980.
Spewing lava far into the sky, a cloud of plant-killing ash would fan out and dump a layer 10ft deep up to 1,000 miles away.
Two-thirds of the U.S. could become uninhabitable as toxic air sweeps through it, grounding thousands of flights and forcing millions to leave their homes.
Can you think of another potential disaster that could accomplish the same thing?
That is why what is going on at Yellowstone right now is so important, and the American people deserve the truth. The following are some more facts about Yellowstone that I compiled that I included in a previous article…
1 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone could be up to 1,000 time more powerful than
2 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone would spew volcanic ash 25 miles up into the air.
3 The next eruption of Yellowstone seems to be getting closer with each passing year. Since 2004, some areas of Yellowstone National Park have risen by as much as 10 inches.
4 There are approximately 3,000 earthquakes in the Yellowstone area every single year.
5 In the event of a full-scale eruption of Yellowstone, virtually the entire northwest United States will be completely destroyed.
6 A massive eruption of Yellowstone would mean that just about everything within a 100 mile radius of Yellowstone would be immediately killed.
7 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone could also potentially dump a layer of volcanic ash that is at least 10 feet deep up to 1,000 miles away.
8 A full-scale eruption of Yellowstone would cover virtually the entire midwest United States with volcanic ash. Food production in America would be almost totally wiped out.
19 The “volcanic winter” that a massive Yellowstone eruption would cause would radically cool the planet. Some scientists believe that global temperatures would decline by up to 20 degrees.
10 America would never be the same again after a massive Yellowstone eruption. Some scientists believe that a full eruption by Yellowstone would render two-thirds of the United States completely uninhabitable.
11 Scientists tell us that it is not a matter of “if” Yellowstone will erupt but rather “when” the next inevitable eruption will take place.
What makes all of this even more alarming is that a number of other very prominent volcanoes around the world are starting to roar back to life right now as well.
For example, an Inquisitr article from back in July described how “the most dangerous volcano in Mexico” is starting to become extremely active…
Poocatepetl Volcano is at it again. The active volcano near Mexico City erupted again this morning, spewing ash up into the sky.
The volcano is currently in the middle of an extremely active phase. According to the International Business Times, the volcano has registered 39 exhalations in the last 24 hours.
An eruption earlier this month caused several flights to be canceled in and out of Mexico City.
The BBC notes that officials raised the alert level yellow following Popocateptl’s eruption on Saturday morning. Yellow is the third-highest caution level on the city’s seven step scale.
And an NBC News article from August noted that one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Japan has erupted 500 times so far this year…
Ash wafted as high as 3 miles above the Sakurajima volcano in the southern city of Kagoshima on Sunday afternoon, forming its highest plume since the Japan Meteorological Agency started keeping records in 2006. Lava flowed just over half a mile from the fissure, and several huge volcanic rocks rolled down the mountainside.
Though the eruption was more massive than usual, residents of the city of about 600,000 are used to hearing from their 3,664-foot neighbor. Kagoshima officials said in a statement that this was Sakurajima’s 500th eruption this year alone.
So what does all of this mean?
Are we now entering a time when volcanic eruptions will become much more common all over the globe?
Could we rapidly be approaching the day when an absolutely devastating volcanic eruption will paralyze much of North America?

From Wikipedia

The Yellowstone Caldera is the volcanic caldera and supervolcano located in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. The caldera is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, in which the vast majority of the park is contained. The major features of the caldera measure about 34 by 45 miles (55 by 72 km).[3] The caldera formed during the last of three supereruptions over the past 2.1 million years. First came the Huckleberry Ridge eruption 2.1 million years ago, which created the Island Park Caldera and the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff. Next came the Mesa Falls eruption 1.3 million years ago, which created the Henry’s Fork Caldera and the Mesa Falls Tuff. Finally came the Lava Creek eruption 640,000 years ago, which created the Yellowstone Caldera and the Lava Creek Tuff.
Volcanism
Yellowstone is a new volcano that was created during a supereruption that took place 640,000 years ago. The caldera lies over a hotspot where light, hot, molten rock from the mantle rises toward the surface. While the Yellowstone hotspot is now under the Yellowstone Plateau, it previously helped create the eastern Snake River Plain (to the west of Yellowstone) through a series of huge volcanic eruptions. The hotspot appears to move across terrain in the east-northeast direction, but in fact the hotspot is much deeper than terrain and remains stationary while the North American Plate moves west-southwest over it.[4]
Over the past 18 million years or so, this hotspot has generated a succession of violent eruptions and less violent floods of basaltic lava. Together these eruptions have helped create the eastern part of the Snake River Plain from a once-mountainous region. At least a dozen of these eruptions were so massive that they are classified as supereruptions. Volcanic eruptions sometimes empty their stores of magma so swiftly that they cause the overlying land to collapse into the emptied magma chamber, forming a geographic depression called a caldera. Calderas formed from explosive supereruptions can be as wide and deep as mid- to large-sized lakes and can be responsible for destroying broad swaths of mountain ranges.
The oldest identified caldera remnant straddles the border near McDermitt, Nevada-Oregon, although there are volcaniclastic piles and arcuate faults that define caldera complexes more than 60 km (37 mi) in diameter in the Carmacks Group of southwest-central Yukon, Canada, which is interpreted to have formed 70 million years ago by the Yellowstone hotspot.[5][6] Progressively younger caldera remnants, most grouped in several overlapping volcanic fields, extend from the Nevada-Oregon border through the eastern Snake River Plain and terminate in the Yellowstone Plateau. One such caldera, the Bruneau-Jarbidge caldera in southern Idaho, was formed between 10 and 12 million years ago, and the event dropped ash to a depth of one foot (30 cm) 1,000 miles (1,600 km) away in northeastern Nebraska and killed large herds of rhinoceros, camel, and other animals at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park. Within the past 17 million years, 142 or more caldera-forming eruptions have occurred from the Yellowstone hotspot.[7]
Yellowstone sits on top of four overlapping calderas. (US NPS)
The loosely defined term ‘supervolcano’ has been used to describe volcanic fields that produce exceptionally large volcanic eruptions. Thus defined, the Yellowstone Supervolcano is the volcanic field which produced the latest three supereruptions from the Yellowstone hotspot; it also produced one additional smaller eruption, thereby creating West Thumb Lake[8] 174,000 years ago.[9] The three super eruptions occurred 2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 640,000 years ago, forming the Island Park Caldera, the Henry’s Fork Caldera, and Yellowstone calderas, respectively.[10] The Island Park Caldera supereruption (2.1 million years ago), which produced the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, was the largest and produced 2,500 times as much ash as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. The next biggest supereruption formed the Yellowstone Caldera (640,000 years ago) and produced the Lava Creek Tuff. The Henry’s Fork Caldera (1.2 million years ago) produced the smaller Mesa Falls Tuff but is the only caldera from the Snake River Plain-Yellowstone (SRP-Y) hotspot that is plainly visible today.[11]
Non-explosive eruptions of lava and less-violent explosive eruptions have occurred in and near the Yellowstone caldera since the last supereruption.[12][13] The most recent lava flow occurred about 70,000 years ago, while a violent eruption excavated the West Thumb of Lake Yellowstone around 150,000 years ago. Smaller steam explosions occur as well; an explosion 13,800 years ago left a 5 kilometer diameter crater at Mary Bay on the edge of Yellowstone Lake (located in the center of the caldera).[14][15] Currently, volcanic activity is exhibited via numerous geothermal vents scattered throughout the region, including the famous Old Faithful Geyser, plus recorded ground swelling indicating ongoing inflation of the underlying magma chamber.[16]
The volcanic eruptions, as well as the continuing geothermal activity, are a result of a great cove of magma located below the caldera’s surface. The magma in this cove contains gases that are kept dissolved only by the immense pressure that the magma is under. If the pressure is released to a sufficient degree by some geological shift, then some of the gases bubble out and cause the magma to expand. This can cause a runaway reaction. If the expansion results in further relief of pressure, for example, by blowing crust material off the top of the chamber, the result is a very large gas explosion.
Earthquakes
Number of earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park region (1973 – Sep 29, 2012) [17]
Due to the volcanic and tectonic nature of the region, the Yellowstone Caldera experiences between 1000 and 2000 measurable earthquakes a year. Most are relatively minor, measuring a magnitude of 3 or weaker. Occasionally, numerous earthquakes are detected in a relatively short period of time, an event known as an earthquake swarm. In 1985, more than 3000 earthquakes were measured over several months. More than 70 smaller swarms have been detected between 1983 and 2008. The USGS states that these swarms could be caused more by slips on pre-existing faults than by movements of magma or hydrothermal fluids.[18][19]
In December 2008, continuing into January 2009, more than 500 quakes were detected under the northwest end of Yellowstone Lake over a seven day span, with the largest registering a magnitude of 3.9.[20][21] The most recent swarm started in January 2010 after the Haiti earthquake and before the Chile earthquake. With 1620 small earthquakes between January 17, 2010 and February 1, 2010, this swarm was the second largest ever recorded in the Yellowstone Caldera. The largest of these shocks was a magnitude 3.8 on January 21, 2010 at 11:16 PM MST.[19][22] This swarm reached the background levels by 21 February.
Volcanic hazards
The last full-scale eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano, the Lava Creek eruption which happened nearly 640,000 years ago,[23] ejected approximately 240 cubic miles (1,000 km3) of rock, dust and volcanic ash into the sky.[15]
Geologists are closely monitoring the rise and fall of the Yellowstone Plateau, which measures on average 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) yearly, as an indication of changes in magma chamber pressure.[24][25]
The upward movement of the Yellowstone caldera floor between 2004 and 2008 — almost 3 inches (7.6 cm) each year — was more than three times greater than ever observed since such measurements began in 1923.[26] From mid-summer 2004 through mid-summer 2008, the land surface within the caldera moved upward as much as 8 inches (20 cm) at the White Lake GPS station.[27][28] By the end of 2009, the uplift had slowed significantly and appeared to have stopped.[29] In January 2010, the USGS stated that “uplift of the Yellowstone Caldera has slowed significantly”[30] and that uplift continues but at a slower pace.[31] The U.S. Geological Survey, University of Utah and National Park Service scientists with the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory maintain that they “see no evidence that another such cataclysmic eruption will occur at Yellowstone in the foreseeable future. Recurrence intervals of these events are neither regular nor predictable.”[15]
According to a National Geographic study, the next major eruption at Yellowstone will most likely be situated in one of the three parallel fault zones that run north/north-west across the park.[32] Two of these areas produced substantial lava flows during the last time the super-volcano was active—174,000 to 70,000 years ago—while the third has had the most frequent tremors in recent years.[32]
Hydrothermal explosion hazard
Studies and analysis may indicate that the greater hazard comes from hydrothermal activity which occurs independently of volcanic activity. Over 20 large craters have been produced in the past 14,000 years, resulting in such features as Mary Bay, Turbid Lake, and Indian Pond which was created in an eruption about 1300 BC.
Lisa Morgan, a USGS researcher, explored this threat in a 2003 report, and in a talk postulated that an earthquake may have displaced more than 77 million cubic feet (2,200,000 m3) (576,000,000 US gallons) of water in Yellowstone Lake, creating colossal waves that unsealed a capped geothermal system leading into the hydrothermal explosion that formed Mary Bay.[33][34]
Further research shows that earthquakes from great distances do reach and have effects upon the activities at Yellowstone, such as the 1992 7.3 magnitude Landers earthquake in California’s Mojave Desert that triggered a swarm of quakes from more than 800 miles (1,300 km) away and the 2002 7.9 magnitude Denali fault earthquake 2,000 miles (3,200 km) away in Alaska that altered the activity of many geysers and hot springs for several months afterward.[35]
The head of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, Jake Lowenstern, has proposed major upgrades and extended monitoring since the U.S. Geological Survey classified Yellowstone as a “high-threat” system.[36]
Yellowstone hotspot origin
The source of the Yellowstone hotspot is controversial. Some geoscientists hypothesize that the Yellowstone hotspot is the effect of an interaction between local conditions in the lithosphere and upper mantle convection.[37][38] Others suggest a deep mantle origin (mantle plume).[39] Part of the controversy is due to the relatively sudden appearance of the hotspot in the geologic record. Additionally, the Columbia Basalt flows appeared at the same approximate time, causing speculation about their origin.[40]
References
1.”Mount Sheridan,vbe 3 Wyoming”. Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
2.”Yellowstone”. Global Volcanism Program, Smithsonian Institution. http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/volcano.cfm?vnum=1205-01-. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
3.as determined by geological field work conducted by Bob Christiansen of the United States Geological Survey in the 1960s and 1970s.
4.”Yellowstone Caldera, Wyoming—USGS”. Cascade Volcano Observatory. United States Geological Survey. 2003-01-22. Retrieved 2008-12-30.
5.Johnson, Stehen T.; Wynne, P. Jane; Hart, Craig J. R.; Enkin, Randolph J.; Engebretson, David C.; Engebretson, David C. (1996). “Yellowstone in Yukon: The Late Cretaceous Carmacks Group”. Geology (Geological Society of America) 24 (11): 997, 998. Bibcode:1996Geo….24..997J. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1996)024<0997:YIYTLC>2.3.CO;2. ISSN 0091-7613.
6.”Yellowstone hotspot track”. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
7.Breining, Greg, Super Volcano: The Ticking Time Bomb beneath Yellowstone National Park (St. Paul, MN: Voyageur Press, 2007). ISBN 978-0-7603-2925-2
8.West Thumb Lake is not to be confused with West Thumb Geyser Basin. The caldera created West Thumb Lake, and the underlying Yellowstone hotspot keeps West Thumb Geyser Basin active. See Fig. 22.
9.Please refer to File:Yellowstone Caldera map2.JPG.
10.Newhall and Daniel Dzurisin, 1988, Historical Unrest at Large Calderas of the World: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1855
11.This qualitative statement is easily verified by reviewing the Yellowstone area in Google Earth
12.”Origin and evolution of silicic magmatism at Yellowstone”.
13.”Secrets of supervolcanoes”.
14.”Introduction to hydrothermal (steam) explosions in Yellowstone”. Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone Net. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
15.Jacob B. Lowenstern; Robert L. Christiansen, Robert B. Smith, Lisa A. Morgan, and Henry Heasler (2005-05-10). Steam Explosions, Earthquakes, and Volcanic Eruptions—What’s in Yellowstone’s Future? – U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2005-3024. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
16.Magma rising
17.Yellowstone National Park Earthquake listings”. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
18.Yellowstone Earthquake Swarms”. Yellowstone Volcanic Observatory. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
19.January 2010 Yellowstone Seismicity Summary”. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
20.”Archive of Yellowstone Updates for 2009″.
21.”UUSS Webicorder (Seismogram) at Lake for December 31, 2008″. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
22. Johnson, Kirk (2010-02-01). “Hundreds of Quakes Are Rattling Yellowstone”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
23.”Undine Falls, Lava Creek, Yellowstone National Park”. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-01-02.
24.John Timmer (2007-11-08). “Yellowstone recharges”. arstechnica.com. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
25.Smith, Robert B.; Wu-Lung Chang, Lee Siegel (2007-11-08). “Yellowstone rising: Volcano inflating with molten rock at record rate”. Press release, University of Utah Public Relations (EurekAlert! (American Association for the Advancement of Science)). Retrieved 2007-11-09.
26.Molten Rock Fills Yellowstone Volcano at Record Rate Newswise, Retrieved on September 2, 2008.
27.”Recent ups and downs of the Yellowstone Caldera”. Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. United States Geological Survey. 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
28.Smith, Robert B.; Jordan, Michael; Steinberger, Bernhard; Puskas, Christine M.; Farrell, Jamie; Waite, Gregory P.; Husen, Stephan; Chang, Wu-Lung; O’Connell, Richard (20 November 2009). “Geodynamics of the Yellowstone hotspot and mantle plume: Seismic and GPS imaging, kinematics and mantle flow”. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 188 (1-3): 26–56. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2009.08.020.
29.http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/activity/archive/2009.php
30.http://volcano.wr.usgs.gov/yvostatus.php
31. http://pboweb.unavco.org/shared/scripts/stations/?checkkey=WLWY&sec=timeseries_plots&timeseries=raw
32. a b Richard A. Lovett (20 September 2012). “Yellowstone Supervolcano Discovery—Where Will It Erupt?”. National Geographic.
33.”Frequently asked questions about recent findings at Yellowstone Lake”. Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. United States Geological Survey. 2008-09-11. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
34.”Tsunami linked to Yellowstone crater”. USA Today. 2008-01-14. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
35.”Quake in Alaska Changed Yellowstone Geysers”. University of Utah. 2004-05-27. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
36. Yellowstone is being monitored
37.Foulger, Gillian (2006-02-08). “Yellowstone”. MantlePlumes.org. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
38. Christiansen, Robert L.; G.R. Foulger, and John R. Evans (2002-10). “Upper-mantle origin of the Yellowstone hotspot”. Geological Society of America Bulletin (Geological Society of America) 114 (10): 1245–1256. Bibcode:2002GSAB..114.1245C. doi:10.1130/0016-7606(2002)114<1245:UMOOTY>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
39.See list of off-line references in mantleplumes.org/CRB.html
40. Ivanov, Alexei V. (2007-02-07). “The Columbia River Flood Basalts: Consequence of subduction-related processes”. MantlePlumes.org. Retrieved 2008-12-31.

National (In)Security
In the United States of Inequality
July 16, 2018
by Rajan Menon
Tom Dispatch
So effectively has the Beltway establishment captured the concept of national security that, for most of us, it automatically conjures up images of terrorist groups, cyber warriors, or “rogue states.” To ward off such foes, the United States maintains a historically unprecedented constellation of military bases abroad and, since 9/11, has waged wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere that have gobbled up nearly $4.8 trillion. The 2018 Pentagon budget already totals $647 billion — four times what China, second in global military spending, shells out and more than the next 12 countries combined, seven of them American allies. For good measure, Donald Trump has added an additional $200 billion to projected defense expenditures through 2019.
Yet to hear the hawks tell it, the United States has never been less secure. So much for bang for the buck.
For millions of Americans, however, the greatest threat to their day-to-day security isn’t terrorism or North Korea, Iran, Russia, or China. It’s internal — and economic. That’s particularly true for the 12.7% of Americans (43.1 million of them) classified as poor by the government’s criteria: an income below $12,140 for a one-person household, $16,460 for a family of two, and so on… until you get to the princely sum of $42,380 for a family of eight.
Savings aren’t much help either: a third of Americans have no savings at all and another third have less than $1,000 in the bank. Little wonder that families struggling to cover the cost of food alone increased from 11% (36 million) in 2007 to 14% (48 million) in 2014.
The Working Poor
Unemployment can certainly contribute to being poor, but millions of Americans endure poverty when they have full-time jobs or even hold down more than one job. The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there are 8.6 million “working poor,” defined by the government as people who live below the poverty line despite being employed at least 27 weeks a year. Their economic insecurity doesn’t register in our society, partly because working and being poor don’t seem to go together in the minds of many Americans — and unemployment has fallen reasonably steadily. After approaching 10% in 2009, it’s now at only 4%.
Help from the government? Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare “reform” program, concocted in partnership with congressional Republicans, imposed time limits on government assistance, while tightening eligibility criteria for it. So, as Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer show in their disturbing book, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, many who desperately need help don’t even bother to apply. And things will only get worse in the age of Trump. His 2019 budget includes deep cuts in a raft of anti-poverty programs.
Anyone seeking a visceral sense of the hardships such Americans endure should read Barbara Ehrenreich’s 2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. It’s a gripping account of what she learned when, posing as a “homemaker” with no special skills, she worked for two years in various low-wage jobs, relying solely on her earnings to support herself. The book brims with stories about people who had jobs but, out of necessity, slept in rent-by-the-week fleabag motels, flophouses, or even in their cars, subsisting on vending machine snacks for lunch, hot dogs and instant noodles for dinner, and forgoing basic dental care or health checkups. Those who managed to get permanent housing would choose poor, low-rent neighborhoods close to work because they often couldn’t afford a car. To maintain even such a barebones lifestyle, many worked more than one job.
Though politicians prattle on about how times have changed for the better, Ehrenreich’s book still provides a remarkably accurate picture of America’s working poor. Over the past decade the proportion of people who exhausted their monthly paychecks just to pay for life’s essentials actually increased from 31% to 38%. In 2013, 71% of the families that had children and used food pantries run by Feeding America, the largest private organization helping the hungry, included at least one person who had worked during the previous year. And in America’s big cities, chiefly because of a widening gap between rent and wages, thousands of working poor remain homeless, sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in their vehicles, sometimes along with their families. In New York City, no outlier when it comes to homelessness among the working poor, in a third of the families with children that use homeless shelters at least one adult held a job.
The Wages of Poverty
The working poor cluster in certain occupations. They are salespeople in retail stores, servers or preparers of fast food, custodial staff, hotel workers, and caregivers for children or the elderly. Many make less than $10 an hour and lack any leverage, union or otherwise, to press for raises. In fact, the percentage of unionized workers in such jobs remains in the single digits — and in retail and food preparation, it’s under 4.5%. That’s hardly surprising, given that private sector union membership has fallen by 50% since 1983 to only 6.7% of the workforce.
Low-wage employers like it that way and — Walmart being the poster child for this — work diligently to make it ever harder for employees to join unions. As a result, they rarely find themselves under any real pressure to increase wages, which, adjusted for inflation, have stood still or even decreased since the late 1970s. When employment is “at-will,” workers may be fired or the terms of their work amended on the whim of a company and without the slightest explanation. Walmart announced this year that it would hike its hourly wage to $11 and that’s welcome news. But this had nothing to do with collective bargaining; it was a response to the drop in the unemployment rate, cash flows from the Trump tax cut for corporations (which saved Walmart as much as $2 billion), an increase in minimum wages in a number of states, and pay increases by an arch competitor, Target. It was also accompanied by the shutdown of 63 of Walmart’s Sam’s Club stores, which meant layoffs for 10,000 workers. In short, the balance of power almost always favors the employer, seldom the employee.
As a result, though the United States has a per-capita income of $59,500 and is among the wealthiest countries in the world, 12.7% of Americans (that’s 43.1 million people), officially are impoverished. And that’s generally considered a significant undercount. The Census Bureau establishes the poverty rate by figuring out an annual no-frills family food budget, multiplying it by three, adjusting it for household size, and pegging it to the Consumer Price Index. That, many economists believe, is a woefully inadequate way of estimating poverty. Food prices haven’t risen dramatically over the past 20 years, but the cost of other necessities like medical care (especially if you lack insurance) and housing have: 10.5% and 11.8% respectively between 2013 and 2017 compared to an only 5.5% increase for food.
Include housing and medical expenses in the equation and you get the Supplementary Poverty Measure (SPM), published by the Census Bureau since 2011. It reveals that a larger number of Americans are poor: 14% or 45 million in 2016.
Dismal Data
For a fuller picture of American (in)security, however, it’s necessary to delve deeper into the relevant data, starting with hourly wages, which are the way more than 58% of adult workers are paid. The good news: only 1.8 million, or 2.3% of them, subsist at or below minimum wage. The not-so-good news: one-third of all workers earn less than $12 an hour and 42% earn less than $15. That’s $24,960 and $31,200 a year. Imagine raising a family on such incomes, figuring in the cost of food, rent, childcare, car payments (since a car is often a necessity simply to get to a job in a country with inadequate public transportation), and medical costs.
The problem facing the working poor isn’t just low wages, but the widening gap between wages and rising prices. The government has increased the hourly federal minimum wage more than 20 times since it was set at 25 cents under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. Between 2007 and 2009 it rose to $7.25, but over the past decade that sum lost nearly 10% of its purchasing power to inflation, which means that, in 2018, someone would have to work 41 additional days to make the equivalent of the 2009 minimum wage.
Workers in the lowest 20% have lost the most ground, their inflation-adjusted wages falling by nearly 1% between 1979 and 2016, compared to a 24.7% increase for the top 20%. This can’t be explained by lackluster productivity since, between 1985 and 2015, it outstripped pay raises, often substantially, in every economic sector except mining.
Yes, states can mandate higher minimum wages and 29 have, but 21 have not, leaving many low-wage workers struggling to cover the costs of two essentials in particular: health care and housing.
Even when it comes to jobs that offer health insurance, employers have been shifting ever more of its cost onto their workers through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, as well as by requiring them to cover more of the premiums. The percentage of workers who paid at least 10% of their earnings to cover such costs — not counting premiums — doubled between 2003 and 2014.
This helps explain why, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 11% of workers in the bottom 10% of wage earners even enrolled in workplace healthcare plans in 2016 (compared to 72% in the top 10%). As a restaurant server who makes $2.13 an hour before tips — and whose husband earns $9 an hour at Walmart — put it, after paying the rent, “it’s either put food in the house or buy insurance.”
The Affordable Care Act, or ACA (aka Obamacare), provided subsidies to help people with low incomes cover the cost of insurance premiums, but workers with employer-supplied healthcare, no matter how low their wages, weren’t covered by it. Now, of course, President Trump, congressional Republicans, and a Supreme Court in which right-wing justices are going to be even more influential will be intent on poleaxing the ACA.
It’s housing, though, that takes the biggest bite out of the paychecks of low-wage workers. The majority of them are renters. Ownership remains for many a pipe dream. According to a Harvard study, between 2001 and 2016, renters who made $30,000-$50,000 a year and paid more than a third of their earnings to landlords (the threshold for qualifying as “rent burdened”) increased from 37% to 50%. For those making only $15,000, that figure rose to 83%.
In other words, in an ever more unequal America, the number of low-income workers struggling to pay their rent has surged. As the Harvard analysis shows, this is, in part, because the number of affluent renters (with incomes of $100,000 or more) has leapt and, in city after city, they’re driving the demand for, and building of, new rental units. As a result, the high-end share of new rental construction soared from a third to nearly two-thirds of all units between 2001 and 2016. Not surprisingly, new low-income rental units dropped from two-fifths to one-fifth of the total and, as the pressure on renters rose, so did rents for even those modest dwellings. On top of that, in places like New York City, where demand from the wealthy shapes the housing market, landlords have found ways — some within the law, others not — to get rid of low-income tenants.
Public housing and housing vouchers are supposed to make housing affordable to low-income households, but the supply of public housing hasn’t remotely matched demand. Consequently, waiting lists are long and people in need languish for years before getting a shot — if they ever do. Only a quarter of those who qualify for such assistance receive it. As for those vouchers, getting them is hard to begin with because of the massive mismatch between available funding for the program and the demand for the help it provides. And then come the other challenges: finding landlords willing to accept vouchers or rentals that are reasonably close to work and not in neighborhoods euphemistically labelled “distressed.”
The bottom line: more than 75% of “at-risk” renters (those for whom the cost of rent exceeds 30% or more of their earnings) do not receive assistance from the government. The real “risk” for them is becoming homeless, which means relying on shelters or family and friends willing to take them in.
President Trump’s proposed budget cuts will make life even harder for low-income workers seeking affordable housing. His 2019 budget proposal slashes $6.8 billion (14.2%) from the resources of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) by, among other things, scrapping housing vouchers and assistance to low-income families struggling to pay heating bills. The president also seeks to slash funds for the upkeep of public housing by nearly 50%. In addition, the deficits that his rich-come-first tax “reform” bill is virtually guaranteed to produce will undoubtedly set the stage for yet more cuts in the future. In other words, in what’s becoming the United States of Inequality, the very phrases “low-income workers” and “affordable housing” have ceased to go together.
None of this seems to have troubled HUD Secretary Ben Carson who happily ordered a $31,000 dining room set for his office suite at the taxpayers’ expense, even as he visited new public housing units to make sure that they weren’t too comfortable (lest the poor settle in for long stays). Carson has declared that it’s time to stop believing the problems of this society can be fixed merely by having the government throw extra money at them — unless, apparently, the dining room accoutrements of superbureaucrats aren’t up to snuff.
Money Talks
The levels of poverty and economic inequality that prevail in America are not intrinsic to either capitalism or globalization. Most other wealthy market economies in the 36-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have done far better than the United States in reducing them without sacrificing innovation or creating government-run economies.
Take the poverty gap, which the OECD defines as the difference between a country’s official poverty line and the average income of those who fall below it. The United States has the second largest poverty gap among wealthy countries; only Italy does worse.
Child poverty? In the World Economic Forum’s ranking of 41 countries — from best to worst — the U.S. placed 35th. Child poverty has declined in the United States since 2010, but a Columbia University report estimates that 19% of American kids (13.7 million) nevertheless lived in families with incomes below the official poverty line in 2016. If you add in the number of kids in low-income households, that number increases to 41%.
As for infant mortality, according to the government’s own Centers for Disease Control, the U.S., with 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, has the absolute worst record among wealthy countries. (Finland and Japan do best with 2.3.)
And when it comes to the distribution of wealth, among the OECD countries only Turkey, Chile, and Mexico do worse than the U.S.
It’s time to rethink the American national security state with its annual trillion-dollar budget. For tens of millions of Americans, the source of deep workaday insecurity isn’t the standard roster of foreign enemies, but an ever-more entrenched system of inequality, still growing, that stacks the political deck against the least well-off Americans. They lack the bucks to hire big-time lobbyists. They can’t write lavish checks to candidates running for public office or fund PACs. They have no way of manipulating the myriad influence-generating networks that the elite uses to shape taxation and spending policies. They are up against a system in which money truly does talk — and that’s the voice they don’t have. Welcome to the United States of Inequality.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

Preface
This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccuratre.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 100

These pleasant memories were shredded as they drove through the gates of the estate and Alex began to think about the boat down in the cove.
The rest of the attendees at Charles Rush’s final rites followed the hearses to the distant cemetery and a number of them commented on the absence of his nephew and his family. It was generally agreed that Cyril Rush was too distraught to attend and he was generally lauded for his moving tribute. Several women made highly favorable comments about his attractive son and one wondered if there was any way she might introduce her nubile daughter into the inner circle.
There was a light lunch of lobster salad, a cold Liebfraumilch and assorted pastries and when Alex announced his intentions of attempting the pool, Chuck stopped him.
“The French are coming here directly and I want you and Claude to come down when they do.”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“Alex, stop being independent. Do as I say and keep your clothes on until our guests have left. Understood?”
Chuck was seldom severe with Alex and the result was much more effective when he was.
“OK,OK, I won’t go anywhere. What’s this virgin?”
Chuck walked over and pulled down three times on a tapestried bell pull.
“The Virgin of St. Malo, my friends, is an art object of great significance to the French. It was a bit of fourteenth century carving that reposed in a small church outside the Norman city of St. Malo. It was stolen by the Germans at the end of the war, liberated from a destroyed baggage column by Americans and vanished thereafter. My grandfather bought it from a Parisian dealer for a great deal of money and absolutely refused to negotiate with the French over its return. Ah, Frederick, sorry to trouble you but would you do me the favor of letting me know the moment several anxious Frenchmen arrive? They will be with Mr. Lupin, the attorney and please advise them that I will be down directly.”
The butler inclined his head.
“Of course, sir. Have you finished with your meal sir? I can have it cleared away if you have.”
“Yes, I think we’ve done. Thank you, Frederick.”
“Yes sir,” and the butler backed out of the room.
Chuck got up.
“If you people would like to see a genuine virgin, I’ll be right back with her. Grandfather kept her locked up in his bedroom.”
“Best place for a virgin, Chuck, in the bedroom. Or maybe in a zoo. They are rare, you know,” Claude said with a leer.
The Virgin of San Malo returned to the room encased in an iron-banded worm-eaten oak chest just short of three feet in height.
Chuck opened the case and displayed a ivory statue depicting the Virgin Mary holding an infant. It was a hauntingly beautiful work and everyone stared at it.
“Oh, Chuck, it’s such a beautiful thing!” Gwen said.
“Yes, it is. You can see why the French consider it a national treasure and my grandfather wouldn’t let go of it. And if you will wait for another moment, I will bring in her sister….”
The second Virgin looked identical with the first and Chuck set them side-by-side on the dining room table.
“Two of them?” Claude asked. “Why two?”
“Well, one is original and other is a copy. Grandfather had a Chinese expert make a copy that took three years to complete. You’re the expert, Claude, tell me which one is original, won’t you?”
Claude turned each one around carefully, squinting intently and then shook his head.
“I can’t tell the difference. All the ivory is aged and the techniques are identical. Which one?”
Chuck lifted one statue up and looked at the base. There was nothing on it and on the second was a tiny spot of red paint.
“This one, Claude, this one is the original. I’ll just return the lady to her bed and put her away.”
When he returned, the butler came and announced the arrival of the guests.
The three men went downstairs in the elevator while Gwen, who was tired and bored, decided to soak in her marble bathtub.
The duplicate virgin was wrapped in a piece of pale blue brocade that Chuck had found in a linen closet and Alex looked into her serene face all the way down in the elevator. He had very little interest in art but this piece had somehow managed to capture his immediate attention and he was very happy that the original would remain in the house. Perhaps he might set it up in his room just to look at. There was a wistful sweetness on the face of the mother that moved him. His mother had never looked at him like that.
\

There were three men in the library; Lupin in his black suit and two other men, one of whom was admiring a very expensive and rare Greek vase in a glass case.
“Ah, Mr. Rush!” the attorney said as his host came into the room.
The others turned.
“May I introduce M. Blanche and his associate, M. D’Albret? These gentlemen are associated with the French Ministry of Culture. Mr. Rush…”
Introductions were made, condolences were offered, hands were shaken and both of the men stared hopefully at the lengthy burden now sitting in the middle of the large desk.
Claude’s name had stirred some interest in D’Albret but he was far more interested in the covered statue.
“What a pleasure to meet you,” he said, bowing slightly. “I have been admiring your vase. There is a similar specimen in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg but yours is a far superior specimen.”
Chuck pointed to a circle of armchairs in front of the desk.
“Please, gentlemen, be seated and we can have a pleasant conversation about museum pieces.”
He sat down behind the desk and folded his hands in front of him, Claude and Alex sitting in chairs behind him.
“Gentlemen, I assume you are here because of this work of art now on my desk. You would like it returned to your country, correct? And my late grandfather and my equally late uncle have refused to oblige you, again correct?”
The two visitors nodded in unison.
“I was sure this was what you were interested in speaking with me about. Very well, I am busy today and very sad at the passing of my late uncle but I have agreed to meet you at Mr. Lupin’s request.”
Lupin was smiled upon by the Frenchmen and Chuck continued.
“I am now going to consult with my associate, Mr. Duplessis and my son, Alex and see if we cannot arrive at some kind of an amicable solution. Mind you, if I decide to keep the piece in the family collection, the French government hasn’t the ghost of a chance to get the Virgin back in their custody. I merely say this by way of stating a realistic fact. Claude, you are French in origin and an art expert. How do you feel about my returning this work to France?”
Claude, who knew it was a fake, managed to look serious.
“Well, Cyril, it is a beautiful piece and certainly something a genuine collector would want to retain. On the other hand, should we put greed ahead of a matter of character? As much as I would like to counsel you to retain the piece, I personally believe that it really ought to be returned.”
The visitors smiled.
“All right, Claude. Now Alex, what do you think?”
For once Alex was serious. He did enjoy the idea of giving the French back a complete fake but he was also aware that Chuck would probably assault him in private if he engaged in his usual sarcasm so, taking an example from Claude, he frowned, reached over and pulled the covering off of the counterfeit Virgin.
“It is beautiful, Father, but I agree with Claude that this is a treasure that we ought to give back. After all, stealing is stealing and I say to give it back. Now it’s up to you Father, isn’t it?”
There always had to be the hook in anything Alex did and Chuck did not miss it.
He frowned, looked at the statue and then at his guests.
“Gentlemen, I have made up my mind. I have a suggestion….”
He slid a desk drawer open, pulled out a sheet of monogrammed paper and began to write on it with an ink pen.
“I am setting down my price for this statue. I hope that it will be satisfactory to you.”
He slid the paper across the desk and Blanche picked it up.
The man read it with eyebrows rapidly ascending, then handed it to his colleague in silence.
“That is your request, sir? Is that all?”
“Yes, sir, it is.”
The two men leaned towards each other and spoke quietly for a few minutes.
“Mr. Rush, we believe we can respond that your terms are entirely satisfactory and can easily be met…”
“Before five in the afternoon of tomorrow, gentlemen?”
“If you will permit us access to a telephone and permission to call Paris, I..we…are absolutely certain. I speak for the minister and my associate can speak for the office of the President itself.”
There were pleasant smiles on everyone’s faces, the telephone on a sideboard was immediately seized by the visitors and while they were talking to various officials, Claude leaned across to Chuck.
“How much are you getting out of them? A million?”
“Oh no, friend, something pleasant for all of us. Something men are led by.”
“Money?” Alex said with a thin smile.
“No, honor.”
“Isn’t money better, Dad?”
“Not always, Ah, our guests are returning with smiles of joy!”
Blanche was indeed smiling broadly.
“Ha, Mr. Rush, I am delighted to advise you that your request has been readily granted. We have spoken with the highest authority and I must say that the government of my country is eternally grateful to you and…” he smiled at the others…” your associates for your graciousness. Be assured, sir, that the pieces you have requested will be of the very highest quality. The very highest indeed. Only reserved for heads of state. Oh and another matter, sir! When he was advised of your kindness, the President himself has requested that he himself be present here for the return of the Virgin of St. Malo. The President himself will make the official presentations. He will stop here before proceeding to the late President’s state funeral. Is this entirely satisfactory to you, sir?”
Chuck was shocked.
“But..certainly sir. We…all of us…will be greatly honored. There is to be an official reception here tomorrow evening at eight. I would certainly hope that you, your associate and other honored guests would attend. We have ample quarters here to house you and it would be my great pleasure.”
There was smiling agreement; bowing and eventually Lupin and the French deputation were shown out just as the late Charles Rush’s private secretary was announced.
A tight-faced woman in an impeccable tailored suit, Marcia Huntsman, was followed by a man carrying a stack of file folders.
(Continued)

This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Kelly Sutton

Kelly Sutton is a California-based MD who practices anthroposophic medicine, a branch of woo pretty much as quacky as it gets. According to her website, she “bases her diagnosis in part on conventional medicine,” but also asserts that “[s]ignificant understanding arises from listening to aspects of an individual’s biography, life purpose, the emotional context of illness and health, and understanding the level of vitality and strength of the life forces.” She then “treats acute and chronic illness using the least toxic effective treatment for the condition. Anthroposophic remedies (low potency homeopathic preparations and herbs), diet, nutritional supplements, healthy rhythm, warmth are some of the foundational principles she employs.” Not a doctor to consult if you suffer from acute illness, in other words, and yes: there will be homeopathy.
However, Sutton is probably more notable for having made a bit of a career as an ally of the antivaccine movement, for instance by offering webinars on how conspiracy-minded antivaccine parents can circumvent the requirements of California’s SB277 by seeking medical exemptions to school vaccine mandates. For instance, her seminar “Step-by-step Program to Help Protect Your Child from the ‘One Size Fits All’ California Vaccine Mandate!” promises you the “tools and knowledge you need to protect your rights as a parent [yes: it’s all about the parents’ rights; the rights of children not to be medically neglected or protected from potentially life-threatening diseases rarely even cross these people’s minds] to choose the healthcare of your child” and to take you “from cornered to confident” for the meager sum of $27 if you take advantage of the early bird special. She does claim that she is neither antivaccine nor pro-vaccine – her claim to take you from “cornered to confident” sort of suggests otherwise – but “pro-parent”: again, the child isn’t even on the radar. She also tells parents to trust themselves and that no one cares more or knows more, which is, of course, false, but an effective marketing gambit. The webinars are otherwise full of standard antivaccine misinformation and gambits, including “vaccines didn’t save us” and “Pasteur was wrong”. Kelly Sutton’s practices are, in other words, hardcore antivaccine; indeed, she even says that she sees “daily in my practice evidence of vaccine injury and I hear stories almost every day of families that vaccinate children and then decide not to vaccinate and the unvaccinated children within the same family are healthier, more socially adjusted and more capable academically even though their parents are older than the siblings who were born first and were fully vaccinated.” Which is what is otherwise known as confirmation bias – unless it’s lying, of course; perhaps her claim that she’s neither here nor there should be interpreted as not caring too much about whether she actually believes the claims she is making.
Fortunately the Medical Board of California was not impressed, and placed Sutton, together with fellow antivaccine-promoting doctors Bob Sears, Michael Fielding Allen, Ron Kennedy and Kenneth Stoller – yes, there is a whole cottage industry here – under investigation in 2019 (“We feel this doctor and perhaps her colleagues … are making easy money on these exemptions that are not based on true medical need and are actually putting children and other people in the community at risk for contracting and spreading serious infectious diseases,” stated the complaint, and a physician review of the exemptions found Sutton’s exemptions “either of questionable validity or patently without medical basis”). The court petition is here.
Diagnosis: Hard to tell whether she is insane or just spineless, but the two are not mutually exclusive. And the exemptions written by Sutton, Sears and some of their colleagues are actually increasing the likelihood of disease outbreaks that are likely to lead to deaths, which makes Sutton a genuine threat to public health and life. And just think about it: Sutton had the skills and perseverance needed to learn a trade where she could actually make the world a better place, yet this is what she ended up doing. What a waste of life and talent! It’s actually deeply tragic.

Victor Martinez

Woody Martin’s “Blood of Jesus oil” is so daft it probably doesn’t even count as a scam, and doesn’t quite qualify him for an entry here. Victor Martinez is hardly a household name either, but he has some influence in UFO circles, and did for instance moderate the maillist that first broke the hilarious Project Serpo story, a poorly written science fiction story (and possibly intended as a hoax) about how a number of American astronauts visited the (fictional) planet Serpo in a spacecraft reverse engineered from the Roswell crash UFO in the 1950s by travelling 40 times the speed of light. (We’ve covered it before). Of course, many of the maillist’s subscribers, already on board with this kind of stuff, apparently accepted the story as detailing real events.
And Martinez himself is a true believer, who implores his readers not to be sidetracked by inconsistencies and nonsense in the story but rather focus on the bigger picture, “that twelve of our citizens from the United States of America embarked on a 13-year mission to live on another world. That’s where the focus should be – not on all of these petty, nit-picky details! [Like evidence, truth, coherence or physical possibility] That’s what everyone should be in awe of.” Awesomeness trumps veracity every time, apparently. Martinez trust the general veracity of the story because of the testimony of impeccable sources like Richard Doty, Whitley Strieber, who “claims to have met a surviving team member of Project Serpo in Florida,” and a number of conveniently anonymous source who ostensibly talked to an acquaintance of fellow UFO enthusiast Bill Ryan, who (the acquaintance) was “amazed that details were now being released” but doesn’t want his name revealed and would deny everything if asked. When your conspiracy is as far out as Project Serpo you’ll take the sources you can get; to Martinez the story is simply too amazing not to be true.
“Why the secrecy?” wonders Martinez – why is the government not willing to share the details of the mission with him and his followers? The answer, of course, is well withing reach, but we wager that Martinez will never figure it out. Instead, he is patiently waiting for “at least some major announcement regarding the UFO subject being made public;” some government person in power needs to step up since “most people need an authority figure to come out and say this-and-that […] because most people can’t think for themselves. In other words, they can’t weigh and evaluate the evidence on its own merits and come to a definitive conclusion on their own; they need someone to do it for them.”
Diagnosis: Some people are indeed unable to “weigh and evaluate the evidence on its own merits”, but that obviously doesn’t tend to prevent them from coming “to a definitive conclusion on their own”. Martinez is at least relatively harmless.

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